Monday, October 17, 2005

Patience. Again. And waiting....

So Mother is now on IV antibiotics and pretty much confined to bed, and has pnemonia, feet and hands are swelling, on oxygen. It is very hard to be so far away, and to be so tied to the phone, waiting any change. It is always uppermost in my thoughts, invading sleep, errands, work. Today I just feel numb...waiting, waiting, waiting.

I make to-do lists in my head about the stuff I need for her, and then I shut off my thoughts because she's not dead yet and I don't want to go there until I have to go there, yet I SHOULD go some, in order to expedite and make notifications easier, yet I don't WANT to go there. It's a catch-22.

I feel like all these thoughts are swimming, like fish in a bowl, and each one is a separate task. I'm dithering about where to start, so I haven't. Yuk. Waiting. Patience. Again.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Stress and snark

The past couple of months have been filled with busy-ness and business, although I can't really recall just what occupied so much time. The past week has been filled with stress and sadness, and yet much gratitude too. Today I had absolutely zero tolerance for games-playing and irritating people, and got a little snarky. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

My brother and I visited our mother last week, celebrated his 55th birthday, and watched her slip further down the shining, shining path, surreptitiously wiping dampness from our eyes, feeling lumps of unshed tears grow large in our throats and chests. We expect to be back there soon for that final goodbye, but she's kept death at arm's length numerous times in the past five years and well may again. I don't think so, though. This time she has pneumonia, diagnosed just before we left, and while she's trying to stay active, upright, and is being given antibiotics, she is so fragile that she can't support her own weight and can't even sit on the toilet anymore. After a terrible Sunday, where she stayed in bed, shook so that she couldn't quite manage the call button, and nearly choked on her own saliva, she cheerfully went to her hair appointment Monday morning, bless her heart. She's going to the dining room for meals and trying to feel better. Her attitude is simply remarkable.

My prayer for a long time has been that she not suffer, and it still is my hourly litany. I can see how things could rapidly become much, much worse, hard as that is to imagine. Her evening caretakers are watchful, insistently seeking care from aides who have so many others to attend to, and we're trying to strike a balance between being outraged with the staff when her needs are not immediately met and understanding that it is impossible to do so. As my brother says, "she is my MOTHER. There is no greater priority right now."

And yet life goes on. Offers are accepted, escrows opened, volunteer tasks and deadlines loom, and I am here, not there. There is not a moment that she is not part of me right now, though, as we sit at a distance in this vigil, my brother and I.

It's like waiting for the other shoe to drop. I don't want it to fall, yet fall it will, and I've been mentally gearing up for some time. The waiting is desperately hard, but that is our job right now, I guess, as clinging to life is hers, despite the loss of so much dignity, so much independence, so much privacy. All that's left to her to choose to share are her thoughts, and the illness and the drugs must dull even those sometimes.

So today I've been a little more direct than usual, a little less tolerant of inconsiderate behavior than usual (although I'm not very forgiving of that on any day--my bad). I've politely told a colleague that she screwed up, I've told a trio of fledgling business owners that they've shot themselves in the foot, and tried some saccharine sweetness on a snarky nurse. I think I'm burning up my frustration at being so helpless where Mom is concerned!

In the midst of all this, I have a solid core of gratitude for my life, for my mother and the gifts she's given me over the years -- not the least of which is exactly that outspokenness. She was a great letter-writer when customer service, cleanliness, or ethical behaviors were questionable, and she got results. She was not unkind, not ugly, but clear and direct about her expectations. Perhaps I'm channeling that these days! Not a bad legacy at all.

I am blessed to have the relationships that I do with my family -- spouse, children, parents, sibling. I treasure that bond above all else in my life -- always have. Always will. Thanks to the universe for those lives and those lessons.